Using Hours of Service Exemptions in Adverse Conditions—Your How-To

A white out at Vail Pass. A 20-car pile-up on Chicago’s I-55. Try as you might, it’s hard to prepare for the unexpected. The good news is there are provisions in place to help you out when something does come up. Namely, Hours of Service exemptions relating to adverse conditions.

What exactly are adverse conditions—and how can you use HOS exemptions appropriately?

We’ll explain what you need to know.

First, what are adverse conditions?

According to the FMCSA, adverse conditions are unusual road, weather, and traffic conditions that could not have been forecasted by dispatch or the driver.

This last element is key.

blizzard adverse driving conditions

If whatever is causing your delay could or should have been anticipated, such as rush hour traffic in an urban area or a predicted patch of bad weather, then you cannot claim adverse conditions.

Hours of Service exemptions for adverse conditions

So what happens when your situation meets the definition of an adverse condition?

The simple answer is that you’ve just been granted a two-hour allowance to get to a safe haven.

It’s important to note that this HOS exemption isn’t always used as intended and it’s critical that you understand the FMCSA’s and law enforcement’s interpretation.

And, it’s this:

You have a two-hour window to get yourself to the nearest safe place. It doesn’t mean you’ve just won the lottery and can now log an additional two hours on the road if you can get to a safe haven in 30 minutes.

HOS regulations are still in effect, so make sure that your run is one that could have been completed within your 11 hours had adverse conditions not been an issue, and remember—you’re not supposed to drive beyond the 14th hour after coming on duty.

Documenting adverse conditions

What should you do when you’ve used the Hours of Service exemption for adverse conditions?

Be sure to document the when, why, and how of your HOS exemption in your driver log. (This will become easier soon as the ELD mandate will require ELDs to be fully enabled for annotating and editing.)

Want to know more?

Life on the road means encountering the unexpected. Make sure you’re prepared by understanding how regulations apply to you and equipping yourself with the technology that can help.

For more information on adverse conditions exemptions and other common questions related to the ELD mandate, check out our recent webinar.